We passed by a long bridge (the longest so far among the countless bridges we crossed), and the view of the Cagayan river is free from any obstruction! I am really tempted to get off the car and take a photo of the Cagayan River but we can't just stop in the middle of the road! Buntun Bridge is how they call it, and I'm not so sure now if it is really the longest or the second longest bridge in the Philippines. But one thing is for sure when you reach that bridge you're at the gateway of the Smiling Land of Beauty.
First stop is the church of Tuguegarao City, the Saints Peter and Paul Metropolitan Cathedral is one of the oldest church in Cagayan. It was finished in 1767 but suffered massive destruction during WWII losing some iconic representations of the church. It is said that the cathedral is one of the most beautiful edifice in the land for its portrait is seen in Vatican City. It's just that it doesn't have enough clearance in front of the church to get the full view of it for the purpose of taking pictures, but I'm not complaining.
After lunch we moved on to Peñablanca to see the Callao Cave! I'm really curious about this place, I've seen a lot of pictures and it looks so mystical for me. From Tuguegarao it took us only about an hour driving along the paved road boasting the majestic view of the Pinacanauan River with rolling mountains and vast rice fields as its backdrop. But in the middle of the long road there was a big mudslide maybe caused during the past typhoons and I got scared, I thought we're not gonna make it to the cave but when we saw a tricycle passed through it, we braved that deep and sticky and wet soft earth and arrived safely to our destination!
And here we are! At the Callao Cave! Isn't it very rewarding to see the light that comes in through the hole? As if heavenly bodies descended from the heaven and shone upon us. The small chapel where we stood is the most beautiful chamber of the cave, you could feel the natural energy moving around. The various limestone formations in the cave such as the Praying Angel, the Lion, Ice Cream in the other chambers are like masterwork of an artist that was ingeniously carved for hundreds of years.
From Peñablanca we went to Iguig, another town in Cagayan where the famous Calvary Hills is situated. The Church of Saint James the Apostle is in the town proper and is located on a hill with the view of the Cagayan River. Within the vicinity of the church are the life-size statues of the Stations of the Cross where devotees go and do a pilgrimage during Holy Week, there's an old well, which was built during the Spanish era and the source of potable water then.
Most churches in Cagayan stood near the Cagayan River, which later came up to me that there were no highways during those times and that the river was the main thoroughfare in going to places. As we moved on, we passed by the town of Alcala, they say that Alcala is famous for its Milk Candy which is made from pure carabao's milk! An old brick church was just along the road and I know that it's the Church of St. Philomene. I was impressed by the intricate design on its gold door which I seldom see in most churches I have been...it is grand! You can find this church easily because it is just along the Maharlika Highway.
Oh well, I thought we spent too much time in town hopping and picture taking, imagine we departed Isabela at 6 AM and it was already late in the afternoon when we reached Alcala, and we are 3 hours away from Sta. Ana, so we have to rush and should make it there before it gets dark! And we were hungry too. And we didn't find any milk candies because the stores were closed. Anyway, it's half past six when we arrived in Sta. Ana, the weather was unpleasant. It was very cold, windy and wet, so we have to check-in right away and went straight to the restaurant and ordered some hot bulalo soup for dinner!
By the way, we stayed in Jotay Resort, the place is comfortable, warm and secured. They have a pool in front of their cozy restaurant. The family room we occupied is just perfect for a family of five, there is a small veranda in front and a space for parking in front of the room. Well, that night I prayed and thanked God for the safe trip we had and prayed for a favorable weather on the next day.
For more information about Jotay Resort you can visit their website at http://www.jotayresort.com/pool.html.
Thank you for reading.